Iori is a beautiful Kyoto machiya (traditional guesthouse), offering traditional art courses and art-related activities. In this clip Noh actor Udaka Tatsushige (son of my teacher, Udaka Michishige) is performing the shimai from the Noh Yuki (‘Snow’), a play that is exclusive to the Kongō school repertoire. In the Noh Yuki, a priest on his way to the Tennō-ji temple is caught in a snowstorm when he encounters a mysterious woman, who in reality is the spirit of snow. After reading a sutra, the woman dances as she disappears in a whirlwind of snow. I saw this Noh performed by Ogamo Rebecca Teele in the recital to which I participated June 2010. It is a very refined, delicate Noh, where all sounds and movements seem to be softened by the snow. Even the typical stomps of certain Noh dances are performed so that the feet softly touch the floor, producing no sound.
アートプロジェクト2012『奉納舞』Collaborate with Art and Noh Drama
“Kyoto Kyo-Machiya Stay Arts Project –Art and Noh Drama Collaboration-”
Iori Co. also offers a unique designed program for experiencing the traditional culture of Japan.
For cerebrating the first Project, there was Noh Drama performing collaborating with four Artists’ works of Art.
The other day I’ve been to this place in Kyoto where you
can eat all sorts of grilled food. Apart from the smoke and the
smell of barbecue that will oblige you to wash everything you wore
on that day, the food is pretty good and the staff nice and
friendly. I had scallop, squid and pumpkin – all grilled with real
wood fire. You have a choice of having whatever you order grilled
by the chef or to grill it yourself on small bracers with burning
embers inside. This is where the
surprise came. The bracers are decorated with paper taken from Noh utaibon (謡本), or Noh chant libretti. Mine had Makurajido (枕慈童, aka 菊慈童) on. I was lucky
enough to be given an utai I already practiced, which was easy to
recognise. However, I realised
it is common practice to use paper from various traditional books
(with printed handwriting) on bracers. This is from the
advertisement of one of the many restaurants specialised in crab.
I find this custom rather interesting,
although a bit inappropriate, maybe.
This year I am spending my first new year period (お正月) in Kyoto. Although the temperatures seemed to be slightly higher than London (recently hit by a blizzard that seriously threatened my departure by having Heathrow and Gatwick shut for a few days), I reached Kyoto once the weather changed here too. We had rain, cold winds, snow and all that comes with the rigours of winter.
One of the most interesting events so far has been the New Year’s performance of Okina at Yasaka-Jinja in Kyoto on January 3rd (the shite was the Kongoh iemoto, Kongoh Hisanori). The New Year is probably the most important festivity of the year in Japan, and people use to pay their visit Shinto shrines (but actually Buddhist temples, too) for what is called 初詣, or ‘first pilgrimage’. Okina is a special performance that does not belong to the 5 ‘regular’ categories, but it is considered a sort of primal performance, although several critics see it as a form of ‘invented tradition’ part of the programme of national resurrection that began during the mid/late Meiji period. Despite philological speculation (with which I anyway concur), I have to admit Okina possesses an ancestral charm to which I unwillingly fall victim… as we say in Italian: ‘l’importante e’ crederci!’